How to Prevent Ford F-150 Catalytic Converter Theft

The Ford F-150 is one of the most common targets of catalytic converter theft—here’s how to protect yours.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Julian de Sevilla
The Ford F-series is a common target for catalytic converter thieves, but you can take steps to protect your F-150 by minding where you park and investing in an anti-theft device for your catalytic converter. 
Catalytic converter theft has become a new and exciting facet of our collective lives, but there are ways to keep yours safe. Here, we’ll take a look at how to prevent catalytic converter theft, what to do if it happens to you, and the kind of
car insurance
you need to be protected.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Ford F-150? 

Unfortunately, yes. The
F-150’s ground clearance
makes it easy for thieves to get up and underneath it to steal the catalytic converter. Other full-size pickup trucks and SUVs like the
Chevy Silverado
and the
Toyota Sequoia
are also popular targets for catalytic converter theft for the same reason.

The top Ford F-150 years that catalytic converter thieves target

But Ford F-150s aren’t just one of the most popular targets of catalytic converter thieves, they’re the most popular. According to a recent study from Carfax, Ford F-Series pickup trucks from 1985 on are the most commonly targeted vehicles for catalytic converter theft

Why are Ford F-150 catalytic converters stolen?

Catalytic converters became mandatory on all cars sold in the US in 1975, and they’re a part of the exhaust system that helps reduce harmful tailpipe emissions. They do this by filtering your truck’s exhaust through a matrix of precious metals—mostly platinum, palladium, and rhodium. The price of these metals has skyrocketed, making cat converters a hot commodity on the black market. 
Prices fluctuate, but here’s the price per ounce of each of these metals as of December 2022: 
  • Platinum: $1,020per ounce 
  • Palladium: $1,794 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $12,700 per ounce 
There’s less than an ounce of each of these in your catalytic converter, but they remain easy targets since they’re so easy to steal.
Case in point: in August of 2022, law enforcement officials in the
Portland
metro area
busted a national catalytic converter theft ring
that was estimated to have trafficked over $22 million worth of cat converters.

Ford catalytic converter replacement cost

It’s already enraging and massively inconvenient to have your catalytic converter stolen. But to add insult to injury, they’re also really expensive to replace. In general, a catalytic converter for a Ford-F150 costs around $1,400. This varies a bit depending on what model year you have and what kind of part you get, but no matter what, it’s an expensive repair.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Ford F-150

But all is not lost! Here are a few things that you can do to keep your Ford F-150 safe and sound:

Park in a safe area

Park your truck in a secure, well-lit area. If there’s video surveillance, that’s even better. The harder it is for a thief to get under your truck unseen, the less attractive of a target it is. If you don’t have a garage, installing some motion-detecting flood lights is a smart move.

Buy a catalytic converter anti-theft device

There are several different kinds of anti-theft devices that you can get for your F-150. One of the most popular ones is an anti-theft shield or guard that serves as a physical barrier between your cat and the thief. Check online to see what companies offer ones that will fit your truck.
Products like the
CatStrap
and the
CatClamp
secure your catalytic converter to your truck and make it next to impossible to steal. You can also install an alarm component for added protection. Most of these products are easy to install at home, so no trip to the mechanic is needed! 

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

A catalytic converter that’s been permanently marked with the vehicle’s VIN is not going to be easy to sell, so having yours prominently labeled is a great theft deterrent. Local law enforcement agencies sometimes hold catalytic converter etching events and distribute kits to folks so they can label their cat converters at home. But if there aren’t any events like this in your area, most muffler shops should be able to get the job done. 
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Get comprehensive insurance coverage

This won’t prevent theft, but it will soften the blow if you have to replace a stolen one.
If you have
comprehensive insurance
, you’ll be able to submit a claim if your catalytic converter is stolen, rather than having to pay for it out of pocket. If you also have a catalytic converter anti-theft device, make sure you inform your insurer—it might mean getting a discount on your comprehensive coverage! 

What to do if your Ford F-150’s catalytic converter is stolen

First, you should contact law enforcement. Depending on where the theft took place, they may be able to access security footage and possibly ID the thief. 
Even if the odds of catching the crook aren’t good, make sure that the officer you speak with files a police report. If you have comprehensive insurance coverage, you’ll need the report number to file a claim for replacement. You’ll still have to pay your deductible, but it’s likely a fair sight cheaper than paying for a replacement out of pocket. 
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then unfortunately it’ll be all on you to pay for a replacement. Shop around and get a few different estimates, as prices often vary quite a bit between shops.  

Can you drive a Ford F-150 without a catalytic converter?

If you suddenly find yourself with a Ford F-150 that is sans a catalytic converter, you might be wondering if it’s still okay to drive it until you get a replacement. Technically, you can
drive a car without a catalytic converter
That being said, it’s not a good idea, and it’s not sustainable. Not having a catalytic converter makes your drive noisier, your acceleration rougher, and your truck more of a polluter. You definitely won’t be able to pass emissions testing without a catalytic converter
Last but not least, some state and local governments have laws requiring that you maintain a properly functioning catalytic converter on your car at all times. So depending on where you live, it could be illegal to operate your truck without a catalytic converter. But hopefully, you’ll never have to find out! 
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